Other Causes Of Foot Pain
Pain in the foot can be a consequence of damage, pressure or rubbing over a long period of time.
Wearing badly fitting shoes, pregnancy, injury, or putting too much strain through specific parts of your foot can all cause changes in the shape of your feet. Often, these changes are painful and can affect your ability to do things.
Sometimes, its our choice of shoes that has the biggest impact on the structure of our feet and the problems we develop, such as:
Corns are raised areas of hard, knobbly skin which develop where calluses have been left untreated. They often cause a burning sensation. A corn is a permanent change to your foot which will need care and management to stop it becoming too painful. You can manage corns by gently filing or pumicing them each week. You should never cut the skin with a blade.
Corns and calluses will usually grow back within four to six weeks unless you reduce the pressure on the area. Wearing softer, roomier footwear and placing a cushioned pad over the corn or callus can help.
A neuroma causes sudden shooting, stabbing, or burning pain. Most commonly it affects the third and fourth toes and the ball of your foot. It can feel like there is a small stone under your foot and your toes may become numb or tingly. It is caused by a damaged or irritated nerve and often becomes more painful over time. It is also known as Mortons neuroma and can be made worse by:
Clawed, mallet, retracted and hammer toes
Keep A Pack Of Crest Pads Handy
One simple way to treat hammertoes and lessen toe pain while stabilizing your joints is to wear a Crest pad, Dr. Solomon says. Its a silicone pad that fits underneath your toes, helping to put them back in a normal position, secured with a ring that goes around your toes. You can wear them alone or inside your shoes.
Other Pain Management Techniques
If a joint is very swollen and painful, your doctor or therapist may suggest you use a splint to rest the joint . This helps reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may recommend that you wear the splint during certain activities all day or only at night. This depends on how severe the swelling or pain is.
Getting a good night’s sleep restores your energy so you can better cope with the pain. It also rests your joints to reduce the pain and swelling. Only you know how much sleep your body needs, so get into the habit of listening to your body. If you feel tired and ache after lunch every day, for example, take a brief nap. This can help restore your energy and spirits.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try relaxing quietly in the afternoon rather than taking a nap. Here are some other tips to help you sleep better:
- take a warm bath before going to bed
- listen to soothing music or a relaxation tape
- spend some quiet time by yourself before you go to bed
Do not take sleeping pills unless your doctor recommends them.
Massage and topical lotions
Massage increases blood flow and brings warmth to the sore area. You can massage your own muscles or you can ask your doctor to recommend a professional who is trained to give massages. If you have arthritis in your shoulders, elbows, wrists or fingers, you may not be able to give yourself a massage.
Tips for safe massage:
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Applying Heat And Cold Compress
When your feet are swollen and painful from an arthritic flare-up, cold packs can reduce the swelling and inflammation, as well as numb the pain. If your feet are aching without inflammation and swelling, heat in the form of a towel dipped in hot water or a topical medication may provide needed relief.
Problems Linked To Low And High Arches
Arches that are higher or lower than average can increase your risk of developing other problems, such as:
- valgus heel
- corns and calluses.
The self-care tips can help ease pain in your arches.
Changing your footwear to a well-made running trainer that you feel supports the shape of your arch may prevent further painful changes to the structure of your arches.
Insoles and arch supports can help but its best to visit a foot specialist, such as a podiatrist, to get ones designed specifically for your foot shape.
If youre buying new footwear its best to take any adaptations, such as insoles, padding, or arch supports with you, as you may need a larger shoe size to fit them in comfortably.
Losing weight, if you need to, can reduce the strain on your arches and may prevent further long-term changes.
You may find it difficult to do exercises that put a lot of pressure through your feet. Swimming is a good way to improve and maintain your fitness because the water supports your body weight.
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What Is Treatment For Arthritis In The Feet
There is no cure for arthritis, but the pain associated with it can be reduced drastically for some patients. The goals of treatment are to:
- Manage symptoms
- Control inflammation
- Preserve or restore joint function
Many patients find the best foot arthritis treatment is one that uses a number of complementary therapies to find relief. A combination of natural treatments, such as orthotics and exercises, along with medication and interventional strategies can help you get back to your life.
Tips To Ease Joint Pain
Arthritis joint pain and symptoms can make simple activities difficult. This head-to-toe guide can help.
Arthritis pain in even one joint can take a toll on your entire body. For example, a painful neck can prevent you from turning your head properly, placing stress on your shoulders. A painful knee may cause you to walk in a way that affects your hips, back and feet. And holding a joint still to protect it can make moving it more difficult and in some cases almost impossible over time.
If joint pain is caused by an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic treatment is needed to stop inflammation that can lead to joint damage or destruction. For flares of pain, persistent pain or pain due to other causes, there are many things you can do on your own or ask your doctor or physical therapist about to get relief.
Solutions vary and may include splints, therapeutic exercises or more informal daily modifications at home and beyond. Here are a few suggestions to help ease joint pain head-to-toe:
Neck pain can make it difficult to look up or turn your head sideways. If you avoid twisting your neck by moving your shoulders or entire body, the surrounding muscles may hurt as much as the joints themselves.
The mandible joint can be a frequent source of discomfort, making it painful to bite into a thick sandwich or an apple. Jaw pain is common on the side of the face or just in front of the ear.
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Consult A Physical Therapist
Physical therapy absolutely comes into play when trying to manage arthritis foot pain and there are all kinds of PT modalities that can be used to decrease inflammation, including massage, whirlpool, cold packs, ultrasound, and lasers, Dr. Spielfogel says. Once the initial inflammation has been reduced, a physical therapist will develop a program of stretching and strengthening to restore flexibility and improve strength to increase balance and reduce stress on the foot joints.
Dr. Sutera finds that patients in the earlier stages of arthritis benefit the most from physical therapy, as they often still have flexibility and mostly need help restoring their balance.
Looking After Your Feet
Its important to take care of your feet if you have osteoarthritis in your feet or ankles. A good footcare plan can help reduce the likelihood of you developing other problems that could make your pain worse, such as corns, calluses, or ingrown toenails.
There are a number of things you can do yourself, including:
- washing your feet every day in warm, soapy water dont soak your feet unless you have problems with hard skin or ingrown toenails
- drying your feet well, including in between your toes
- moisturising your feet all over, except for between your toes
- cutting your toenails regularly, cutting straight across the nail doing it at an angle or down the sides could lead to ingrown toenails.
If you have corns or calluses, try:
- soaking your feet in warm water to soften the skin
- using a pumice stone or foot file to remove hard skin
- moisturising your feet to keep the skin soft.
Its a good idea to get your feet checked regularly by your GP or a podiatrist. This is important if you have any problems with your feet that dont get better after a few weeks.
Podiatrists , also known as chiropodists, are specialists in treating foot problems. You can either be referred to an NHS podiatrist by your GP or, in some areas, you can refer yourself.
You could also pay to see one privately. Either way, you should make sure theyre registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council .
When getting new shoes, consider the following tips:
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Why Do I Have Pain In My Foot Or Ankle
Most people experience pain in and around their feet or ankles at some point in their lives.
Its one of the most complex, hard-working regions of your body. It has 26 bones and 33 small joints, all held together by a network of soft tissue made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
Most cases of foot or ankle pain are short term and are caused by soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains.
These should gradually heal with the help of simple self-care measures. Though some could take a few months to fully recover, you probably wont need to seek treatment from a healthcare professional.
However, some pain can have no obvious cause or may not improve significantly with self-care.
Pain that seems to be getting worse, does not improve, or lasts longer than a few months could be due to structural changes in the foot or ankle, or an underlying condition.
There can be several explanations for long-term pain in and around the feet or ankles, such as:
- badly fitting footwear
See Your Doctor For Arthritis In The Feet
If you have arthritis in your feet, have your feet checked by a rheumatologist or podiatrist at least once a year, Dr. Frisch says.
We recommend yearly visits to be sure there arent any changes in your feet and to see whether any devices you may have been given, such as braces or orthotics, are working appropriately,” says Frisch. “And if youre having pain, dont wait for your yearly visit. See your doctor right away.
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Use Hot And Cold Therapy
Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Heat treatments can include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness and using an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort overnight.
- Cold treatments can help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers, is a component of some topical ointments and creams that you can buy over the counter. These products provide warmth that can soothe joint pain.
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When psoriatic arthritis involves the feet, the pain can seem like plantar fasciitis, which feels like a stabbing pain10 along the bottom of your foot near the heel. It can be easy to assume something like this is the cause of your foot pain, but if you have ongoing symptoms, exhibit other signs of psoriatic arthritis, and have a family history of psoriatic arthritis, then you may want to talk to your doctor about psoriatic arthritis screening.
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How Do I Manage Arthritis At Home
There are some things you can do at home that might help if youve been diagnosed with arthritis in hands and feet. For example, your doctor may suggest that you make lifestyle changes. This means eating a healthy diet and getting a good nights sleep. Taking a warm bath before you go to bed and avoiding caffeine at night could help.
If your doctor suggests moving around, staying as active as possible can make the muscles that support your joints stronger, helping you maintain your range of motion. Exercise can also help you lose weight, which could take some of the pressure off of certain joints.1
Always talk to your doctor before making any lifestyle changes, and follow their advice.
How Are Ankles And Feet Affected By Arthritis
Any joint in your ankles, feet and toes can be affected by arthritis. Many different types of arthritis can affect the feet and cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Arthritis in the feet can make standing and walking painful. You may find your feet and/or toes change shape, making it harder to fit shoes.
Consider different forms of exercise to take pressure off painful feet. Make sure you have supportive, well fitting footwear.
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Use Topical Medications For Arthritis In The Feet
Some people find that topical medications provide relief from foot arthritis pain, Frisch says. Look for topicals with capsaicin, an ingredient found in chile peppers thats believed to decrease the amount of substance P, which transmits pain in the body. Capsaicin is sold over the counter as a cream, ointment, stick, gel, lotion, liquid, or pad and under different brand names, such as Icy Hot and Zostrix.
Use Heat Or Cold Safely
- Use either heat or cold for only 15-20 minutes at a time. Let your skin return to its normal temperature before using another application.
- Always put a towel between your skin and any type of pack.
- Always follow the advice of your physical therapist or doctor carefully when using these methods especially heat.
- Check your skin before and after using heat or cold.
- Use milder temperatures for a child’s skin because it is more sensitive than an adult’s skin.
- Do not use either heat or cold if you have open cuts or sores.
- Do not use cold packs if you have poor circulation or vasculitis.
- Do not use heat that is too hot or cold that is too cold. It is normal for your skin to appear pink after using a hot or cold pack. If an area appears dark red or spotty red and white there may be some skin damage. Blisters also appear if the pack was too hot or too cold.
- Do not use creams, heat rubs or lotions on your skin while using a hot or cold treatment.
- Do not make your bath or shower water too hot. This may cause dizziness or fatigue.
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Dont Ignore Calluses On Your Big Toe
One of the first joints to show symptoms of arthritis is the big toe, Dr. Solomon says. The big toe needs 65 degrees of dorsiflexion in order to propel the body forward during normal gait. Arthritis can limit that motion, causing a condition called hallux limitus, or a stiff big toe, she explains. But you dont need a protractor to measure the angle of your toe flexion to know if this is your problem. Look for a pinch callus on the inside of your big toe as that can be a sign that you may have this condition, she says.
Dont Dismiss Heel Pain
While your toe joints are commonly targeted by arthritis, arthritis can manifest in your ankle and heel as well, Dr. Ragland says. Many people mistake this type of pain for a sports injury or strain but if your pain doesnt improve within a week or if it recurs frequently, you need to see a doc to get it checked out, she says. Pain in your heel can be due to something called enthesitis, or inflammation where connective tissues insert into bones. This is associated with inflammatory types of arthritis, like psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The Achilles tendon in your heel is a common location for enthesitis.
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Lose Weight To Help Your Feet
Your feet carry all the weight of your body all day, every day. You cant overstate the impact your weight has on the joints and connective tissues of your feet, Dr. Tumen says. Its so important to watch your weight. Even losing as little as five to 10 pounds can ease the stress on your joints and help with arthritis symptoms, he explains.
Dont Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Foot pain can be a symptom of many underlying diseases, including cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and, of course, arthritis. Podiatrists are well aware of this and as such may suggest extra tests, like blood work, or advise that you see additional health care providers, Dr. Ragland says. If they dont, and you feel as if there is more to your symptoms, dont hesitate to ask about further tests or a referral to another doctor, she adds. Second opinions are always a good idea.
Exercise And Wise Use Of Joints
Another key to coping with pain is to follow an exercise program designed by your doctor or physical therapist.
Your exercise program should include special range-of-motion exercises to help keep your joints movable. It should also include general fitness exercise such as swimming or walking. These help keep your heart, lungs, bones and muscles strong. Exercise also helps relieve stiffness and gives you an improved sense of well-being. Here are some tips to help you exercise properly:
- If you have a flare, do only gentle range-of-motion exercises.
- Start with just a few exercises and slowly add more.
- Listen to your body. If it hurts too much or if you begin to have too much pain, stop the exercise. Ask your doctor or therapist to help you learn the difference between normal exercise discomfort and too much exercise pain.
Using joints wisely and saving energy
Using your joints wisely means doing everyday tasks in ways that reduce the stress on painful joints. Saving your energy means “listening” to your body for signals that it needs to rest. It also means learning to pace yourself so you don’t become too tired. Here are a few guidelines for using your joints wisely and for saving your energy: